Tag Archives: worksite injury

work hardening

Work Injury Rehabilitation Program: Preparing You For A Safe, Sustained Re-Entry Into the Workforce.

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Work Hardening

Our PT & Me physical therapists are dedicated to assisting the injured worker return to their job safely, with a decreased risk for re-injury. A work hardening program is a highly structured, goal oriented treatment program that improves work related functional abilities, with a skilled approach of graded exercise, activities, and education.

CRITICAL COMPONENTS OF OUR WORK HARDENING PROGRAM

  • Progressive program attended 4-8 hours / day.
  • Excellent patient to therapist ratio with constant supervision by a licensed OT or/and PT.
  • Completion of a musculoskeletal evaluation to identify deficit areas that affect safe performance of essential job functions, and to form the basis of the treatment approach.
  • An exercise program tailored towards improving the flexibility, strength, and endurance required for a successful return to work. At completion of the program, a comprehensive home exercise program will be provided to ensure long term success.
  • Assist the work hardening participant resume appropriate work behaviors including attendance, punctuality, and response to supervision.
  • Performance of graded job simulation activities, so that the participants gain confidence in their ability to return to work, and so they can apply their body mechanics training in a meaningful way.
  • Comprehensive patient education on pacing, stress management, back care, and injury prevention as indicated.
  • Upon Request a physical capacity / work capacity evaluation will be performed at the completion of the work hardening program to objectify the ability of the participant to return to work.

Safe Lifting Practices for Back Injury Prevention

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Whether at home or at work safe lifting practices can keep your back healthy and safe. Before lifting heavy objects decide how you will lift carry & place the item before you pick it up. Test the weight of the load by moving or tipping it. Figure out if you can break the load down by placing the contents of large containers into a number of smaller ones before moving them. Is the path clear? What is the weight of the load? How much stress will be placed upon your back? Is there traffic, a tripping hazard, a doorway to go through, or a stairway to go up or down? Avoid carrying an object that requires two hands to hold, either up or especially down a flight of stairs. Use the elevator. Plan a rest stop, if needed. Knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going will prevent you from making awkward movements while holding something heavy. Clear a path, and if lifting something with another person, make sure both of you agree on the plan.

KEY STEPS FOR SAFE LIFTING PRACTICES

Establish a Base of Support: Use a wide, balanced stance with one foot in front of the other. Make sure that you have firm footing and that your feet are a shoulders-width apart. This staggered stance gives you the stability of not falling over and being able to secure the load.

Keep Your Eyes Up: Looking slightly upward will help you maintain a better position of the spine. Keeping your eyes focused upwards helps you keep your back straight.

Get a Good Grip: With your palms and make sure you have an adequate hold on the object. Be certain you will be able to maintain a hold on the object without having to adjust your grip later. You can use gloves to help maintain an adequate grip, but don’t rely on gloves because they can desensitize the fingers and make you unable to feel the object.

Lift Gradually with Your Legs: Without using jerky motions. By using your leg strength, your chance of lower back injury is greatly reduced.

Tighten you stomach muscles: As you begin the lift and keep you head and shoulders up.

Pivot – Don’t Twist: Move your feet in the direction of the lift. This will eliminate the need to twist at the waist.

Weight: A lighter load normally means a lesser risk of injury. The weight of the object should be within the capacity of the person to handle safely.

Handling: It is easier to pull or push a load than it is to lift, put down or carry.

Keep the Load Close: Holding a 20lb object with your hands 20 inches from the body creates more compressive force on your low back than holding it 10 inches away. This is because the muscles in your back have to work to counterbalance the weight when it is further from the body. As the compressive force on your low back increases, so does the risk of muscle strains, ligament sprains and damage to the disks in the spine.

Frequency: The more times a load is handled, the more tired the muscles become, making it easier for the person to be injured.

Distance: The farther the load has to be moved, the greater the risk of injury.

Duration (TIME): Where the job involves repetitive movements, reducing the time spent on handling will help to ensure the movements are not causing unnecessary strain.

Forces Applied: Forces should be applied smoothly, evenly and close to the body. Forces exerted should be well within the capacity of the person, and the person should maintain proper posture.

Nature of the Load: Loads that are compact, stable, easy to grip, and capable of being held close to the body are much easier to handle.

Terrain: Rough ground, steep slopes, slippery and uneven floors, stairs and cluttered floors make moving a load awkward and increase the chance for injury.

Environment (Climate & Lighting): If it is too hot, too humid, too cold or the lighting is inadequate, the capacity to work safely is reduced.

Condition of the Workplace: Safe and comfortable working conditions, with adequate space to perform the task, and tools and equipment that are well-maintained, make their job safer.

Age/Gender: Young and old workers alike may be at an increased risk of injury from manual materials handling activities. Ensure abilities of employees are in line with functional job requirements.

Training: Proper training for the specific task is vital to reduce injury.

Team Lifting: If one person cannot lift or move a heavy, large or awkward object safely, organize a team lift. Team lifting reduces the risk of injury, reduces fatigue and makes the task much easier.

Raise/Lower Shelves: The best zone for lifting is between your shoulders and your waist. *Put heavier objects on shelves at waist level, lighter objects on lower or higher shelves.

Avoid Lifting from the Floor: Lifting from the floor can greatly increase your risk of injury for two reasons. Firstly, it is difficult to bring objects close to your body when picking them up from the floor, especially large objects where your knees can get in the way. Secondly, your low back must now support the weights of your upper body as you lean forward, in addition to supporting the weight of the item you are lifting. Lifting the same 20lbs from the floor more than doubles the amount of force on your low back when compared with lifting is from waist height. Even a one pound object lifted from the floor increases you risk of injury if you use a bent over posture.

Get Help When You Need It: Don’t try to lift heavy or awkward loads on your own. Even though the muscles in your upper body may be strong enough to handle the load, the muscles, ligaments and disks in your lower back may be injured because of the additional forces they have to withstand. Get help from a co-worker, and whenever possible, use a cart, hand truck or other mechanical device to move the load for you.

This content was written by Fit2WRK who has partnered with PT and Me to give a comprehensive look into the services physical and occupational therapists provide. For more information on Fit2WRK click here.

FCE

Functional Capacity / Work Capacity Evaluation

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What is FCE / WCE Testing?
A Functional Capacity / Work Capacity Evaluation evaluates an individual’s ability to perform work activities post injury or illness. It documents the patient’s current ability from physical, medical, behavioral and ergonomic perspectives. It is within the scope of practice for occupational and physical therapists to provide such testing.

What to Expect
• FCE / WCE s can be used by physicians to complete work status reports. The FCE / WCE identifies the ability of an individual to safely return to work at full, modified or transitional duty
• The patient’s strength for material handling activities are identified via Department of Labor Standards: ex.) sedentary, light, medium or heavy
• An individual’s tolerance to non material activities such as sitting, walking, bending, etc. are quantified as never, occasional, frequent or constant as per Department of Labor standards
• A FCE / WCE will identify discrepancies between symptoms and objective findings
• FCE / WCEs can identify whether further medical evaluation or intervention is appropriate
• It can determine if there is a need for therapy or change in current therapy or direction
• If the individual is not ready for return to their previous job, it can establish a baseline for a work hardening program

Shoulder Stretch

This information provided by Rebound Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy group located throughout Bend, OR. Rebound’s Bend North location specializes in industrial rehabilitation and More information about their industrial rehab center can be found here.

Increased Risk Zones

Work Related Stress & Increased Risk Zones: Part 1 of 2

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INCREASED RISK ZONES
All Risks Increase with Duration, Frequency and Magnitude.

• Excessive Force

• Repetition of Activity (Can irritate tendons and increase pressure on nerves)

• Awkward Posture (Can compress nerves and irritate tendons)

• Sustained Static Posture (Can restrict blood flow and damage muscles)

• Unsupported Positions

• Motion (Increased speed or acceleration when bending / twisting, can increase the amount of force exerted on the body)

• Compression (Grasping sharp edges like tool handles, can concentrate force on small areas of the body, reducing blood flow and nerve transmission, and damaging tendons and tendon sheaths)

• Inadequate Recovery Time (Overtime, lack of breaks, & failure to vary tasks)

• Vibration of Tools (From vibrating tools, can decrease blood flow, damage nerves, and contribute to muscle fatigue)

• Whole Body Vibration (From driving trucks or operating subways, can affect skeletal muscles and cause low-back pain)

• Effects of Temperature (Cold temperatures can adversely affect a worker’s coordination and manual dexterity while Heat stroke can be very serious as when the body becomes unable to control its temperature, it rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.)

• Environment (Slip/Fall hazard-Uneven Floor Surfaces)

• Material Handling Guidelines:
Weight Loading over 50lbs
Lift Speed greater than 5/minute
Vertical Lift Exceeds 3ft
Carry over 1 minute
Sustained Push/Pull over 30 seconds
Static reach holding tasks over 1 minute

Part two of our Work Related Stress & Increased Risk Zones can be found here

work related stress

Sources:
1) Ergonomics: The Study of Work, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA 3125, 2000 (Revised)
2) T. R. Waters, “Manual Materials Handling”, in: Physical and Biological Hazards of the Workplace 2nd. Edited by P. Wald and G. Stave. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2002.
3) Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) © Fit2WRK 2015 R.Gagne

industrial athlete

Industrial Athlete Tips for Health and Work Recovery

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THE INDUSTRIAL ATHLETE
Industrial workers use their bodies to perform their jobs just as an athlete would. An athlete may do his/her job for 3 hours during a game whereas an industrial worker uses their body for 8 hours every day. It is important to take care of the most important tool you have at your disposal, your body.

HYDRATION
It is important to maintain hydration to prevent premature exhaustion and muscle injury. Appropriate fluid levels are important for cells in the body to recover and repair. This is especially important in workers who are in a warm environment or have to use heavy non-breathable PPEs. Some studies recommend drinking 1 cup of water every 30 minutes.
• Maintaining hydration is also important when not at work. When a person has sign of dehydration, it is usually too late. No longer sweating or becoming thirsty are signs of dehydration.
• Alcohol can have an adverse effect as it increases the rate of dehydration.

REST
Proper rest is important for proper muscular recovery and prevents fatigue at the end of the day and week. When the body and mind do not have the necessary “shut down” time, physically – fatigue and injury can result and mentally – unclear thinking, poor decisions and shortness of temper can result.

factory_worker

STRETCHING
A good method of injury prevention is stretching. A good program will be developed for the most significant muscle groups you use during your work day.

General rules for stretching:
1. Stretching is to be done slowly, gently and should not produce pain.
2. Perform stretches until you feel a slight pull and hold.
3. DO NOT BOUNCE during stretches.
4. Hold stretches for seconds, not counts.
5. It is not uncommon to have some muscular soreness for 3-5 days after performing stretches that you may not be accustomed to.
6. If you feel sharp pain with any stretch – stop performing that particular stretch.

Article about the industrial athlete was written by the Therapy Team at STAR Physical Therapy.